Cycling is a great cardio sport and a useful activity if you need to get from one place to another. However, you may find yourself cycling during non daylight hours, whether that be because of necessity (if you ride your bike to and from work, there are several months of the year when it’s dark for both your morning and evening commutes) or preference. Whatever the case, there are associated risks with cycling at night/ pre dawn that you should prepare for in order to have an enjoyable ride.
Let There be Light — And Plenty of It!
One of the top issues with nighttime cycling is poor visibility. Making sure you’re seen by the cars and trucks you share the road with is a top priority to ensuring your safety.
The most important part of safety gear for biking at night is light. Here are some of the choices available for making your night cycling safe:
- Wheel reflectors (generally clipped on to spokes)
- Handlebar lights
- Fender reflectors
- Helmet lights – These follow your line of sight, so not only do they make you more visible, they also help you to see what’s ahead of you better.
- A bright front headlight and a red tail light – Headlights are required on bicycles in many states, but whether you live in one of them or not, a bright headlight makes sense both in lighting your way and allowing oncoming traffic to see you. The tail light is red, just as the tail lights on cars and trucks are red, to make you visible to approaching traffic.
- Reflective clothing such as vests, ankle bands, wrist bands, and gloves.
Wearing something reflective on your legs and/or feet is a good idea because those are the parts of your body that will be in constant movement. This moving light is more likely to catch the eye of a motorist than a fixed light is. Pedal and wheel lights are another option to ensure you have enough light on the road.
Other Ways to Stay Safe
- Be vigilant. Staying safe also requires that you pay attention and obey the traffic laws by signalling turns (preferably with light-up turn signals that mimic those on a car), stopping at red lights, and riding with — not against — the flow of traffic.
- Use a lighted bike path. If you’re riding for sport or exercise, do a search before you head out for lighted bike paths in your area.
- Be especially wary on narrow rural roads. Narrow country roads without a shoulder are where many nighttime bicycle accidents happen. Make sure you’ve got good lights (front and rear), wear reflective clothing, and stay alert. If you need to signal a car pulling out of a side street, flash your front headlight at them.
Riding at night is reasonably safe if you equip yourself correctly, stay alert and vigilant, and follow the rules of the road. And no matter what time of day you’re riding, your helmet is one piece of safety equipment that’s non-negotiable!